Externship Policy

American Bar Association Standard 305 regarding study outside of the classroom requires that an externship program involving field placements must have a clear statement of the educational goals and methods for the externship program and a demonstrated relationship between these goals and methods to the program in operation. This Externship Program Policy sets forth:

  • the criteria for awarding academic credit for externships;
  • the educational goals of the Externship Program and the methods of achieving those goals;
  • the requirements of the Externship Program for student externs, on-side externship supervisors and faculty supervisors.

Criteria for Awarding Academic Credit

To be eligible to participate in an externship for academic credit, the student must have successfully completed the first-year law student curriculum prior to beginning participation in the externship. Under this Externship Program Policy, a maximum of three hours of externship credit shall be counted toward the graduation requirements for the J.D. degree. To have more than three credit hours for a single externship counted toward the graduation requirements for the J.D. degree, the externship must be approved by the faculty as a separate, distinct and ongoing externship program. A student may participate in more than one externship during the student’s course of study at the College of Law, but the total number of credit hours awarded under this Externship Program Policy for all externships shall not exceed three credit hours.

Academic credit earned through an externship shall be awarded on a Pass/Fail basis. Credit will be determined by the faculty supervisor for the externship in consultation with the on-site externship supervisor. A student extern must complete approximately 42.5 hours of work to earn one hour of externship academic credit. Academic credit will be awarded once all required administrative paperwork has been completed and submitted by the faculty supervisor for the externship to the Associate Dean for Students.

A student may not receive academic credit for an externship for which the student receives compensation. If the externship placement will be with a private sector for-profit employer, the student and the on-site externship supervisor must provide additional documentation showing how the externship will comply with the educational goals of the Externship Program and the requirements of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Externships with private sector for-profit employers will be approved by the Associate Dean for Students and the Curriculum Committee on a case by case basis.

If the on-site externship supervisor does not have a Juris Doctorate degree, then the student and the on-site externship supervisor must provide additional documentation showing how the externship will satisfy the educational goals of the Externship Program.4 The Associate Dean for Students and the Curriculum Committee will approve proposed externships having a non-attorney on-site externship supervisor on a case-by-case basis.

Educational Goals

The educational goals of the Externship Program are:

  • To encourage the further development of the student’s legal research, writing and drafting skills through work on various types of documents;
  • To expose the student to lawyering skills through participation in or observations of activities such as interviewing, counseling, negotiation, mediation, oral and written advocacy, factual investigation, public hearings and the development of strategies for case management and the legislative process;
  • To develop the student’s advocacy skills through participation in or observations of court proceedings, discovery, administrative agency proceedings, lobbying activities and legislative hearings and debate;
  • To give the student practical legal experience and to enhance the student’s understanding of the application of the principles learned in law school to real world legal problems;
  • To give the student the opportunity to participate in, and reflect upon, the work of legal institutions;
  • To expose the student to issues of professional responsibility within the context of the workplace;
  • To encourage the student to explore and consider the different roles that lawyers have in the economy and in society, and to expose them to the range of career opportunities available to those individuals who possess a J.D. degree; and
  • To permit the student to gain practical experience in specialized areas of the law through experiences that will supplement the student’s course work within the law school.

Methods and Program Requirements

The following methods will be used to achieve the educational goals of the Externship Program:

Student Externs Student externs must meet all of the requirements below for the externship in order to receive academic credit. Externship Proposal Application. The Externship Proposal Application (Appendix A) must be completed and approved by the Associate Dean for Students prior to the starting date of the externship. Externship Educational Planning Form. The Externship Educational Planning Form (Appendix C) must be completed and returned to the faculty supervisor within one week of the starting date for the externship. Daily Log (Timesheets). The student extern must complete a daily log describing the student’s externship work activities and the time spent on those activities. A sample log/timesheet form is attached as Appendix D. All daily logs must be signed by the on-site externship supervisor and provided by the student on a regular basis to the faculty supervisor. Evaluations. An evaluation of the student extern (Appendix E) must be completed by the on-site externship supervisor after the first six weeks of the externship and at the conclusion of the externship. Evaluations must be returned to the faculty supervisor. It is the student extern’s responsibility to make sure that all required evaluations are completed and returned to the faculty supervisor in a timely manner. No academic credit will be awarded for the externship until all evaluations have been turned in to the faculty supervisor. In order to provide for meaningful periodic review of the externship and to facilitate the training of externship supervisors, the student extern must complete an evaluation of the on-site externship supervisor and the overall quality of the externship placement (Appendix E) at the conclusion of the externship. This evaluation must be turned in to the faculty supervisor for the externship. Writing Samples. If permitted by the on-site externship supervisor, the student will submit to the faculty supervisor two samples of written work done during the externship. Writing samples may be any type of writing that is representative of the student’s activities during the externship. The student extern is responsible for redacting the writing samples to maintain confidentiality in accordance with the standards established by the externship placement.5 Reflective Journal Writings and Optional Outside Reading and Writing Assignments. The student extern must prepare weekly journal entries during the course of the externship. The purpose of these journal entries is to reflect on the externship experience. In addition, the faculty supervisor has discretion to assign additional outside readings that are relevant to the externship and may require the student to write several short reflective papers or one longer paper. Journal entries must be provided to the faculty supervisor at regular intervals. In preparing the journal entries and any other reflective papers, the student extern is responsible for maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the standards of the externship placement. Faculty supervisors are encouraged to provide a list of representative journal entry topics to assist the student in preparing thoughtful journal entries. On-Site Externship Supervisors The role of the on-site externship supervisor is central to the student’s educational experience. On-site externship supervisors are expected to perform the following tasks: On-Site Externship Supervisor Agreement. The On-Site Externship Supervisor Agreement (Appendix B) must be signed and returned as part of the student’s Externship Proposal Application prior to the starting date of the externship. Externship Educational Planning Form. The Externship Educational Planning Form (Appendix C) must be completed with the student extern at the commencement of the externship and returned to the faculty supervisor no later than one week after the starting date of the externship. Evaluations. The on-site externship supervisor must evaluate the student extern (Appendix E) after the student has completed six weeks of the externship and again at the conclusion of the externship. Work Assignments and Ongoing Assessment/Feedback. The on-site externship supervisor is responsible for providing assignments to the student that are consistent with the educational goals and methods set forth in the Externship Program Policy and the student’s individualized Externship Educational Planning Form. The on-site externship supervisor is expected to provide assessment and feedback to the student extern concerning the work assignments on a regular basis. Suggestions for assessment and feedback are contained in the Guidelines for On-Site Externship Supervisors (Appendix F). Faculty Supervisors The role of the faculty supervisor is to monitor the student’s externship experience for compliance with the educational goals of the externship. The faculty supervisor is to assist the student in reflecting upon the relationship between the principles learned in law school and the resolution of real world legal problems, the role of lawyers and legal institutions in society, and the fundamental values and professional responsibilities of practicing lawyers. Faculty supervisors are expected to perform the following tasks: Monitoring. The faculty supervisor should review and monitor the student extern’s educational experience using the daily log of activities, the weekly journal entries, and any other writings assigned at the discretion of the faculty supervisor. Regular Communication. The faculty supervisor should communicate on a regular basis with the student extern and, if necessary, assist the student in addressing any issues that are raised by the six week evaluation or any other on-site work place issues that may arise. Educational Enhancement. Where appropriate, the faculty supervisor has discretion to assign additional outside reading material and/or additional writing assignments that are designed to enhance the student’s educational experience.

  • American Bar Association Standard 305 is attached as Appendix G.
  • See, e.g., the College of Law’s D.C. Government Agency and Institution Semester Externship.
  • See Appendix A, Externship Proposal Application, Appendix B, On-Site Externship Supervisor Agreement, and Appendix H, Requirements for Externships with Private Sector For-Profit Employers Under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • See Appendix A, Externship Proposal Application, and Appendix B, On-Site Externship Supervisor Agreement.
  • The Guidelines for On-Site Externship Supervisors (Appendix F) require the supervisor to brief the student on the confidentiality requirements of the externship placement as part the process for completing the Externship Educational Form (Appendix C) with the student extern at the commencement of the externship.

Externship Appendices